Nine-year-old accused of killing five in trailer park fire

Nine-year-old accused of killing five in trailer park fire
By: USA Posted On: October 09, 2019 View: 10

Nine-year-old accused of killing five in trailer park fire

A nine-year-old child has been charged with first-degree murder after five people died in a trailer park fire in Illinois.

Three infants - a one-year-old and two two-year-olds - and two adults died in the fire on 6 April at the Timberline Mobile Home Park near the village of Goodfield.

State attorney Greg Minger said that no other details would be revealed about the suspect, but​​​​​​ the county coroner confirmed that the fire was started intentionally.

"It was a heavy decision," Mr Minger said, adding that the incident was a "tragedy":

"At the end of the day, it's charging a very young person with one of the most serious crimes we have. But I just think it needs to be done at this point, for finality," he said.

The deaths can be classified as a mass killing, according to FBI guidelines, as more than three people were allegedly murdered.

No child as young as the nine-year-old has been charged with mass murder since at least 2006, according a database compiled by the Associated Press, USATODAY and Northeastern University.

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But a lawyer and former prosecutor has said that it may be hard for the prosecution to prove that the child formed an intent to kill all five people in advance, which is required in first-degree murder charges.

"Nine-year-olds don't know that Santa Claus doesn't exist. They don't know people die and don't come back to life," Gus Kostopoulos said.

"I don't know if nine-year-olds can form intent to commit murder."

A recent United Nations report recommends that children under the age of 14 should never be prosecuted, no matter the crime.

Germany's age of criminal responsibility is 14, while in the UK it is 10.

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